Fallon grad braves ultra running
One-hundred miles of running can easily scare off many people before even thinking about lacing up the shoes and stepping out the door.
But for a 1997 Fallon grad, long-distance trail running intrigued his interest to go for greater challenges. A few miles turned into 50 kilometers and then 50 miles. Jon Robinson wanted to keep pushing and found himself comfortable running 100 miles at altering elevations across the country.
Robinson recently competed in the Hardrock 100, a grueling endurance test in the Rocky Mountains, where he finished 11th out of 140 with a time of 30 hours, 41 minutes and 39 seconds, after running through elevations that climbed up to 14,000 feet and stayed at 13,000 several times. The top finish came at 25 minutes after the 24-hour mark.
“There’s always a point in which you really don’t want to continue,” Robinson, 34, said of one of the biggest challenges. “I’ve never felt at the point of not being able to continue. I know people who do. It’s a matter of will if you want to continue or not. If you can overcome that, you’ll get to the finish line.”
Robinson played soccer for the Greenwave during the 1990s before attending to the University of Nevada, Reno, and eventually receiving his degree from Stoney Brook in New York. He studied abroad at Beersheba University in Israel before coming back to New York and then followed up with his Masters degree from the University of Washington. Robinson is now a speech therapist and he and his wife have been living in Seattle since 2004 with their 3-month-old boy.
Robinson started running the 100-mile races in 2010 and continues to run long distance during the week. He runs about 50 miles a week year-round and when a race looms, Robinson said he builds up to 100 miles for a couple weeks with as much mountain terrain as possible.
“Increasing volume tends to lead into injuries, strained calf (muscles), tendinitis or inflammation in the foot,” Robinson said about his history of injuries. “Nothing major has happened in the race. There are stomach problems but I like to think of the 100-mile race as an eating and drinking competition. It’s getting enough calories to run 20, 30 hours. The stomach revolts because it’s not used to burning that amount of calories in that time. It’s getting the calories to stay.”
The interest is high enough that runners have to qualify for these types of races, but Robinson has accepted the challenge many times since his first race. He has run in five 100-mile races since 2010 but has been running the 50K and 50-mile challenges since 2009.
He keeps his body in good shape with continuous running throughout the week as well as eating right and staying positive. The mental aspect, though, is key.
“It was hard mentally,” he said of his 2010 race. “Anything after 50 miles is more of a mental exercise than physical. There’s nothing you can do more to prepare after 50 miles. Mentally, you have to encounter the ups and the downs. It’s knowing how to eat, knowing how to drink and knowing how to stay positive.”
During the Colorado race this month, Robinson didn’t rest much but said that some of the competitors nap to help finish the race. However, the longest rest he had during the 10 check points was 2 minutes.
“Some people do rest but it would take a little bit longer to nap given the elevation or altitude,” he added. “Anyone who finished under 40 hours didn’t sleep. You have the option to crash and take a nap.”
But everyone wants to help each other during the race.
“At the competition, everybody’s largely out there to help each other,” Robinson said.
Robison’s best time in the 100-mile races came last year at Lake Tahoe when he finished the Tahoe Rim Trail in 20:07, good for third place. Robinson has also competed in Utah, Washington and Wyoming, while taking in the scenery and encounters with the wildlife.
“I have run into elk, moose and black bears,” Robinson said. “I generally expect to run into something interesting during these multi-hour events.”